The Truest Pleasure

The Truest Pleasure

4.1 9
by Robert Morgan
     
 

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Ginny, who marries Tom at the turn of the century after her family gives up on her marrying, narrates the story of their life together on her father's farm in the North Carolina mountains. Although Ginny's story is remote from today, its rendering of the nature of marriage is timeless and universal.  See more details below

Overview

Ginny, who marries Tom at the turn of the century after her family gives up on her marrying, narrates the story of their life together on her father's farm in the North Carolina mountains. Although Ginny's story is remote from today, its rendering of the nature of marriage is timeless and universal.

Editorial Reviews

Boston Book Review
A novel that lives on every page....the book is astonishing.
Washington Post Book World
Morgan's simple, eloquent language grounds the story in a tough farm life, his language pulses with poetry.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Eloquent, wise and heartbreaking, Morgan's second novel (after The Hinterlands) offers insightful truths about family life and marital relationships through the twangy voice of narrator Ginny Peace, who lives in North Carolina mountain country during the first half of this century. Hill people like Ginny and her family endure dawn-to-dusk labor on the farm and offer thanks for simple pleasures. But Ginny needs another dimension: attending Pentecostal revival meetings where she is moved to speak in tongues is the only way she can satisfy her craving for transcendence. Marriage to hardworking but taciturn Tom Powell and the birth of several children fulfills Ginny for a time, but the intoxicating joy of being ``cleansed by the Spirit'' lures her again and brings an irrevocable rift with Tom, who despises such uncontrolled behavior. They continue to work side by side while their marriage dissolves in misunderstanding, resentment and spite, until a crisis finally helps Ginny understand the dimensions of their mutual love. Morgan's touch in this novel is deft and assured. Rarely has the experience of religious ecstasy been described with such poetic intensity and lack of condescension. In addition, he combines a keen observation of the natural world with a bone-deep knowledge of the traditions and cyclical rites of country life. Homely scenes of domesticity, with bickering born of family tensions and jealousies, are given depth by episodes distinctive of Appalachian culture. The reader is astonished when, after this somewhat desultory recital of the practical details of farm labor and household routine, the action suddenly accelerates into one dramatic, suspenseful scene after another. Ginny becomes a heroic figure: indefatigable, burning with duty born of desperate hope and, finally, struck by a tragic epiphany. This story of unassuming people striving for goodness but alienated from each other by differences in personality and perception of the world cannot fail to pierce the reader with the same poignant, ironic insight Ginny achieves.
Library Journal
This book by award-winning poet and novelist Morgan (The Hinterlands) focuses on the marriage of Ginny and Tom, a marriage rich in contrasts. The most significant difference is a source of constant irritation: Ginny is drawn to the ecstasies of Pentecostal worship, of which Tom, a workaholic, disapproves thoroughly. While this central difference precipitates many angry moments, the marriage endures such traumas as a child's death, backbreaking labors, and illnesses that have since been quelled. Narrated by Ginny and set among the Blue Ridge mountains in western North Carolina in the early 20th century, this novel is enhanced by Morgan's fine descriptions. Perhaps not surprisingly for a native of the area, he deftly represents mountain speech and Appalachian folkways. -- Faye A. Chadwell, Univ. of Oregon, Eugene
George Needham
Ginny and Tom, who live in the North Carolina mountains at the turn of the century, marry for mutual convenience: she needs someone to manage her aging father's extensive properties, and he has a visceral need to farm land he can eventually call his own. Love grows as they strive to understand and respect one another. The major obstacle in their path is their difference over religion. Ginny is Pentecostal, a "holy roller" who speaks in tongues, while Tom's religion amounts to hard work and plenty of it. He so distrusts the religious frenzy of the revivals that he prevents Ginny from taking their children to the camp meetings. Morgan has succeeded in a most difficult endeavor, writing a thoroughly entertaining and even moving novel about a time, place, and people that most contemporary Americans know only as cartoons. He has managed to craft this novel without any hillbilly stereotypes or Erskine Caldwell style sensationalism, depending instead on his characters' decency and humanity to carry the story. Outstanding.
Richard Bausch
It contains characters and situations that aren't easy to forget. -- The New York Times Book Review

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781565121058
Publisher:
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date:
01/10/1995
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
5.36(w) x 7.33(h) x 1.22(d)

Meet the Author

ROBERT MORGAN is the author of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, most notably his novel Gap Creek and his biography of Daniel Boone, both of which were national bestsellers. A professor at Cornell University since 1971 and visiting writer-in-residence at half a dozen universities, his awards include Guggenheim and Rockefeller fellowships and an Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature. He was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 2010. Find him online at www.robert-morgan.com.

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